E.g., 06/09/2023
E.g., 06/09/2023
Eight Key U.S. Immigration Policy Issues: State of Play and Unanswered Questions

The United States is witnessing one of the most dynamic policy periods in the immigration arena, with the Trump administration moving to reshape many facets of the immigration system with use of its executive powers. The administration’s marked activity on the immigration front contrasts sharply with Congress, which has been largely unable to tackle substantive change to the immigration system over nearly two decades.

While the administration has been significantly focused on the border, this report examines a range of policy areas that have not been at the forefront of debate but deserve greater information sharing with the public and policymakers. “This period of significant action by the executive branch, which has surfaced a real questioning of long-held immigration policies and practices, presents a new opportunity for lawmakers to inject policy ideas of their own into what have been prolonged, often stagnant, legislative debates,” the report states.

Among the questions it asks:

  • What achievable definition of border security should the federal government be measured on? And what border spending is likely to generate the highest returns on investment, in particular in an era where migration patterns have changed significantly and the U.S. government is spending one-third more on immigration enforcement than on the combined budgets of the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Secret Service, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives?
  • With the H-1B visa program the main vehicle through which U.S. employers can sponsor skilled foreign workers for admission, what program reforms would address concerns about the replacement of U.S. workers while still meeting employer needs?
  • With 1.2 million unauthorized immigrants eligible for green cards as the spouses of U.S. citizens or green-card holders, is it time for Congress to revisit the three- and ten-year bars on re-entry that are blocking most unauthorized immigrants who could be sponsored by a relative or employer from applying for fear of triggering lengthy absences from the United States?


Table of Contents 


Issue No. 1. Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Funding

A.        The New Challenge: Changing Flows

B.         The Need for New Responses

Issue No. 2. The Attorney General’s Referral and Review Power

A.        Referral and Review Power

B.         The Trump Administration Reviews

C.        Looking Ahead

Issue No. 3. Unaccompanied Minors

A.        New Fingerprint Policies

B.         Emergency Shelter Use

Issue No. 4. Interior Enforcement Priorities


Issue No. 5. Three- and Ten-Year Bars to Adjustment of Status

The 1996 Law

Issue No. 6. Refugee Resettlement

A.        Cutting Refugee Admissions Levels

B.         Heightened Vetting of Refugees

Issue No. 7. Skills-Based Immigration: The H-1B Program

A.        H-1B-Dependent Employers

B.         Further Reforming the H-1B Visa

C.        Administrative Reforms

Issue No. 8. The Agriculture Sector: Relief for Farmers and Workers

A.        Grower and Worker Concerns

B.         AgJOBS Proposal